Atlanta, GA - 1984
©Mark D Phillips
Every Picture tells a story
During my career, I have enjoyed a front row seat to the digital revolution.
My career began in the media. After graduating from Randolph Technical College with a degree in photojournalism, I spent 20 years traveling the world using technology to meet daily deadlines.
While working as a staff photographer for The Augusta Chronicle, I added the “D” to my photo credit. I was assigned to photograph Princess Anne on a visit to Georgia, the British Embassy made light of my name. “We can’t give credentials to a photographer with the same name as her ex-husband, Captain Mark Phillips” was the reason. So Mark Phillips became Mark D Phillips on my professional credit line.
It’s also where I picked up the nickname of MADDOG. We had an equipment locker and whenever you initialed your checkout, I put MDP. Somehow that began MadDogPhillips, from one of my peers, and it stuck. So began MADDOG PHOTO.
Great China Skywalk
Making use of early digital technology in 1994, I transmitted daily coverage of Nelson Mandela’s election as president of South Africa via Compuserve, the first worldwide computer service. In 1995, I made one of the first digital photo transmissions from the interior of China, providing images of Jay Cochrane’s World Record high wire walk above the Yangtze River to the worldwide media.
Jay Cochrane's skywalks would become a highlight of my career. Jay returned to China in 1996 for a nighttime skywalk over Shanghai. For a decade from 2002 to 2012, Jay Cochrane brought skywalking back to Niagara Falls, Canada, and I was honored to document them all. In Niagara, Jay Cochrane completed the longest and highest skywalk ever performed outside of China when he traversed 1,250 feet between the 32-story Niagara Fallsview Casino and the 520-feet Skylon Tower in 2005.
Cancer took him too early. He was a unique talent and my friend. I miss him every day.
9/11, the twin towers
September 11, 2001, had more photographs taken than any day in history. The twin towers were the symbol of New York City and were one of my favorite photographic subjects.
On that fateful day, I photographed the attack from my rooftop in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Just 3 miles from the Twin Towers, I saw the devastation wrought on the city that I love. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
My photograph, “Satan in the Smoke,” became a worldwide phenomenon and an icon of digital photography. With no negative, I had to prove that a digital image was real and un-retouched.
By 2001, as the World Trade Center was destroyed, digital photography was becoming the norm. The Digital Revolution was now officially complete and now the Digital Age is here to stay.
Satan in the smoke
9/11 - 2001
©Mark D Phillips
9/11, 20 YEARS
On the first anniversary of 9/11, Shepard Smith interviewed me on my roof in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, at the exact location I captured "Satan in the Smoke" on September 11, 2001,
On the 20th anniversary, New England Public Media interviewed me for their Connecting Point series on September 10, 2021.
9/11 was and is a defining moment in my career as a photographer and my life in New York City.
Twenty years after 9/11, we were in the middle of a pandemic and now we are focusing on what's around us. This photograph was taken from my apartment window on a night that smoke from wildfires in Washington State filled our sky in Brooklyn. When the ball of the sun dropped perfectly behind the Statue of Liberty, I felt a euphoria that everything had come together in total unity. The smoke provided an unearthly atmosphere with a myriad of colors. I named it "Freedom's Fire".